Learn Kansai-ben With Cats ①

Ever wanted to learn more about the infamous Kansai dialect of Japan? From a Japanese person? Through the medium of cats? Well now you can learn Kansai-ben with cats!!! 関西弁にゃんこ (Kansai-ben Nyanko) is a fantastic book by Maki, a Japanese illustrator and writer from Kyoto. 絵がすごくかわいいですよ!!! Her art is so cute!!! And following her on twitter is great Japanese practice! If you have LINE you can buy her Kansai-ben Kitten stickers here! This book is currently unavailable in English but I got special permission to translate parts of it for Japanese Talk Online readers! This isn’t a very long book … Read More…

Best Japanese YouTube Channels

I am one of those people who would rather watch YouTube than TV. The amazing thing about YouTube is the ability for people from all around the world to create content. Yet due to YouTube’s advertising algorithms you probably never see content from other countries. Even if you watch lots of videos about Japan it’s rare that a Japanese YouTube channel will appear unless you search for it. So here’s my list of some of the best Japanese YouTube Channels. Do you have any of your own or other suggestions? Let everyone know on the JTalkOnline Facebook Page! A quick note: … Read More…

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 3

Advanced Japanese Reading Practice 3

Advanced Reading Practice on Memrise Articles: 「オゾン層に回復の兆し」 米研究グループ ネット動画で広がる被災地応援 Tip 1: When studying the vocabulary read it out-loud – Even if you’re just moving your lips (because you’re in public, for example) reading the vocabulary and what it means out-loud will help cement the readings and meaning in your memory. Tip 2: When reading the articles read out-loud – Your brain will have to work harder to sound out every word. This is important because when you read in your head you’re more likely to skip over words and readings, which won’t help your comprehension. Tip 3: Time yourself when you read an article – Make … Read More…

Japanese Asadora Bite Size Drama

Drama are great ways to practice Japanese. They are made by Japanese people for Japanese people telling Japanese stories. Often it’s hard to pick a good drama to watch if you don’t know drama very well. Which is why I think asadora are some of the best dramas for practising Japanese. Japanese asadora bite size drama, they’re only 15 minute long episodes, are easy and simple to watch, and are great for advanced and intermediate practice. These are not for beginners. Because of the conversational Japanese, thick accents and often historic phrases used, Japanese asadora are normally best for intermediate and … Read More…

Review of NILS Language School Fukuoka

In 2013 I spent 6 months in Fukuoka studying at a private school called NILS. They provide lessons from 1 month to 2 years for a variety of levels at a reasonable price. I’ve had a few people ask me about them and they want me to write a recommendation for their site so I figured why not kill two birds with one stone? Overview of the school NILS is based in Fukuoka. It has 2 campuses, one outside of Fukuoka (but not far away) for long term students who are there on the 1-2 year courses. Shorter term classes are … Read More…

Soft Power and Translating Manga

Translating Manga

  The head of the Theory and Practice of Translation program for my MA was an elderly Chinese man who often made snide remarks about how translating manga wasn’t a “real” form of translation. A view I worry is often shared among professional translators. When the topic of manga comes up many people think of kids people, and never consider the adults that enjoy reading and working with manga translation. They often don’t consider the culture behind each page, the hard work that goes into translating it, or the implications manga can have on society’s perspective of Japan. They don’t … Read More…

Japan’s Lucky Poop – Dajare Puns and Culture

This week I wanted to look at Japan’s fascination with dajare (ダジャレ) or “wordplay/puns” and how their love for them has permeated itself into Japanese customs and media. (I’ve talked about Japanese humour before in Japanese Jokes for English Speakers.)   Japan’s Lucky Poop Dajare One of Japan’s most weird and iconic custom is poo. There is a weird obsession with it to the point where you can buy cute faced poop keychains, and golden poop statues at shrines. So why the poop? In Japanese poop can either be “unko” (うんこ) or “unchi” (うんち), however, “un” (うん) also means luck or … Read More…

JET Teaching in Japan

Many people interested in Japan are interested in moving there. Quite often that means an interest in teaching English in Japan either through JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) or another program. If you want to get a foot in the door to work in Japan, or to get better at Japanese I strongly suggest applying to JET or another teaching program in Japan. You don’t need any Japanese language experience or qualification either. I’ve asked a few current teachers for advice on their teaching programs, working in Japan, and advice for people interested in teaching in Japan. 1) Why did … Read More…

Birthdays in Japan

Birthdays in Japan

It was Japanese Talk Onlines 2nd Birthday this week (4th October to be exact)!!! 誕生日おめでとう!!! To celebrate we’re going to talk about how people celebrate their birthdays in Japan as they’re very difference compared to the West. The idea of celebrating the anniversary of one’s birth with a party, cake, family and friends, in the way that we understand it, is a very Western idea. You may have noticed watching J-drama or anime, that when a person celebrates their birthday Happy Birthday is sung. This might not seem that strange but when you think about it, this is a VERY … Read More…

Japanese Weather Reports

Japanese Weather

This post covers Japanese weather reports, providing you with a vocabulary list of weather and verbs to practice. If you watch the news in Japan then the weather report will be shown, and although you can guess what’s being said based on what’s being shown it helps a lot to understand it. This post does cover very basic weather vocabulary which might be had with average Japanese people, but it focuses more on intermediate and advanced vocabulary and sentences used in Japanese weather reports. In How to Read Japanese Newspapers we covered what to expect from newspaper articles but also useful tools like Rikai-chan … Read More…

Japanese Idioms & Proverbs

A Japanese friend visited me a few weeks ago and I as showed her around London the topic of idioms came up. I was helping her with her English and I mentioned “the grass is always greener on the other side” which does have an equivalent phrase in Japanese. So I’d like to discuss some of the m ore useful phrases you might want to use when meeting Japanese people or when travelling in Japan. I know there are a few other sites that talk about these (I’ll link them at the bottom), but I asked a friend for ones that … Read More…

Studying Japanese In Japan

One of the best experiences anyone can do is studying Japanese in Japan. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a week or two, a month, a year, or more. If you’re interested in learning Japanese and Japan then going to the country is the best way to do it. The following are tips and some suggestions for going to Japan for different periods of time. These are for all ages, whether you’re in your teens in school or in your 40s and working, it’s never too late to go out to Japan for any length of time. How to Choose … Read More…

Japanese Jokes for English Speakers

I wanted to write something light hearted to apologise for the last few months of slow updates. So here are some really bad/wonderful jokes for English speakers who know Japanese, and some you should try on some Japanese friends. Did you know “Dad Jokes” are called “Old-man Gags” in Japan? – おやじギャグ When a bad pun or joke is told you should say さむい “that’s cold” Japanese Jokes (Mostly Puns) ① 海のパイレーツは「海賊」と空のパイレーツは「空賊 」なら家庭のパイレーツはなんでしょうか? – umi no pairetsu wa “kaizoku” to sora no pairetsu wa “kuuzoku” nara, katei no pairetsu ha nan deshouka? If sea pirates are “kaizoku” and skypirates are “kuuzoku”, … Read More…

Let’s go! Ikimashou! – Guest Post

行きましょう! (Let’s go! Ikimashou!)             So imagine… you’re teaching English in Japan and winter vacation rolls around. Oh, what will you do? Well, ☆THIS GUY☆ decided to hit up Tokyo, because… why not?! 行きましょう to Akihabara(秋葉原), the Electric Town of Tokyo! Akihabara is also known as the geek (オタク otaku)mecca of Japan. If you are a geek who loves video games (テレビゲーム terebi gemu) and comics (まんが manga) you need to come here someday. I always come here to check out video games. And, my favorite ramen(らめん) shop, Kyushu Jangara Ramen, just so happens to be in Akihabara too.    … Read More…

A Foreigner Sumo Wrestling in Japan – Guest Post

I was a Shindeshi:A Foreigner’s Chance at a Japanese Sport     Sumo (相撲: sumou), I have been familiar with the sport for a while now, because of my interest in Japanese culture, but I never really imagained that I would throw on a mawashi (廻し: a thick waisted loin cloth), be thrown into the dohyou (土俵: the ring made from clay and sand for sumo bouts), and do well!   Firstly, I am currently an ALT with the JET Program working for the Board of Education in Katagami City, Akita Prefecture, Japan. I am really greatful to be working … Read More…

Going to Conventions in Japan

I went to London ComicCon recently (aka MCM Expo to anyone that’s been going for over 4 years) and it reminded me of the big differences between conventions in Japan compared to the UK and America. You’d think that Japan being the “origin” of cosplay, and amazing technology and games, that they’d have a fantastic convention environment with a wide variety of cool stuff. But this debatably not the case. Or at least it’s very different to how we experience conventions in the UK. So below I’ll discuss the differences between West and Japan, what to do and not do … Read More…

A Cheap Way to Visit Japan – WWOOF

“I have no money, but I really want to go to Japan!” – The first time I ever visited Japan was in 2008 when I was on my gap year. I had worked at a shop for several months beforehand to save up enough money for the flights and a few weeks in a school, but I wanted to spend longer in Japan and WWOOF was the perfect option. WWOOF stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” and is basically what it says on the tin. It’s an organisation present in about 99 countries where organic farms can sign … Read More…

Understanding ばいと敬語 Shop Japanese

Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan – A guide to understanding shop Japanese バイトけいご When you go to a shop or restaurant in Japan, even if you’ve learnt you basics of Japanese, it can be hard to understand what the shop assistance are saying. Not only are they saying sentences they’ve been saying all day everyday which makes them more like automated lines, but they also use a mutated form of Japanese they you would not have learnt in lessons. Even if you’re learning up to JLPT N1 level “shop speak” isn’t a topic that’s normally covered in conventional lessons. This … Read More…

Restaurant Japanese – Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

When you go visit Japan you are most likely to eat out in a restaurant at least once at some point during your visit. So here are some tips on ordering, understanding the server and some general restaurant vocabulary that you might find useful. All the vocabulary and phrases are being added to a new Memrise course on the JTalkOnline Memrise page! There’s also a general course that has the basics on restaurants along with a variety of other topics: Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan Last week’s post: Different types of Japanese restaurants and what to expect  — Getting a Table The … Read More…

Restaurants in Japan

Apologise for the late post but I’m in Tokyo on a business trip and it’s been non-stop for almost a week. Being out here though, is reminding me of some useful Japanese, especially restaurants in Japan. So this week is about food in Japan when you go to visit and useful vocabulary and phrases to use when going to a restaurant (which will all be on Memrise as well). Although I realised that this was quite a large topic, so it will be split into 2 posts with this one about restaurants and the next about useful Japanese phrases which … Read More…

Being Sick in Japan

There was no post this week on Wednesday because I was ill. Which although meant I spent the week getting over some kind of cold bug, it also reminded me of the importance of being able to talk to people in Japan about when you’re sick, and what Japan expects from sick people. So this post is about the culture of being sick in Japan and some useful phrases to use if you find yourself sick in Japan. The Differences Between Being Sick in Japan and the West Believe it or not Japanese people expect sick people to act in … Read More…

Japanese Signs – Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan

In a previous post Essential Japanese for Visiting Japan I explained about phrases that would be essential for visiting Japan. Especially if you were staying with a Japanese family. So this post is about signs you’ll see around Japan, especially the common ones that are important to know. To make it easier to learn them I have images that show examples of the signs you’ll see in Japan along with explanations for the kanji. The kanji explanations show where the words come from and how they’re read on their own in comparison to a kanji compound (when 2 or more … Read More…

Cooking Japanese I – Customs and Vocabulary

“I want to be able to read Japanese cook books and online recipes!” Ever wanted to be able to cook Japanese food? Ever wanted to be able to read Japanese cook books? I certainly have. I love cooking Japanese food. You can find so many recipes online but some of the best are from native chefs. It’s difficult when you’re not in Japan with access to the ingredients, but there are ways to replace the ingredients and places in stores and online you can get hold of them. This is a two-part post with Cooking Japanese II focusing on practising … Read More…

Christmas and New Year in Japan

Only a week left until Christmas and two weeks until 2014! This means the next 2 weeks won’t have any updates, but today’s will be a special one covering Christmas and the New Year in Japan. Customs mixed with some phrases and words to add to your vocabulary. Christmas クリスマス As you may or may have not guessed, Christmas is not celebrated in Japan the same way it is celebrated in the west. Although missionaries first took the idea of Christmas to Japan in the 1550s it never caught on, partially because Christianity was illegal from 1612 (although secret masses were … Read More…